Belfast Telegraph

Rihanna calls the tune on inward investment

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to write the words 'inward investment' and 'Rihanna' in the same sentence. But, every day is a learning curve on this desk and so caught up in Rihannagate are we that it would be churlish not to mention the good work this Barbadian songstress has done in promoting Northern Ireland across the globe.

Think what you will about the puritanical views of the farmer who put a stop to the stripped down antics of the singer in his field, but the episode has got Northern Ireland firmly in the spotlight of the world's media.

The front page of The Daily Telegraph, the last great bastion of conservative broadsheets in the UK, had a half-page length picture of the singer in Mr Graham's field yesterday, while if you type her name into a search engine you'll find every publication from the Boston Globe to the Sydney Morning Herald has picked up on the story.

And rather than brush the episode under the table as an amusing side story, we need to strike while the iron is hot.

Her production company obviously thought we have what it takes to provide the backdrop for a music video and were willing to invest their money here.

In fact, Alan Graham, who we can assume didn't allow them to mess up his barley crop for nothing, is a direct beneficiary of inward investment from Rihanna's visit herr.

And if we're lucky, there will be executives in the world's biggest PLCs who are Rihanna fans and might look at the coverage and think "we should set up a European base there".

Wishful thinking maybe, but we can compete on the global stage with the best of them and can now add some pretty heavyweight names to the list of productions that have been made on these shores including Game of Thrones, Your Highness and City of Ember.

But it's not just film-making, as getting Northern Ireland's name around the globe in any context which isn't linked to our troubled past is good for all sectors of the economy - exporters as well as inward investors.

For instance, if you've picked up the telephone to your customers in foreign lands over the last few days, the chances are you'll both have had a chat about the madness of the Rihanna visit. It sounds small beans but a little light-hearted chat goes a long way in building customer relations. So, while Rihanna's visit seems like a passing fad, don't underestimate the power of widespread, and largely positive, publicity.

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